About 75 people gathered Wednesday at the Harker Heights Chamber of Commerce to officially launch the first phase of Anderson Arbors, created through the efforts of the Vision XXI 2017 leadership class.

Anderson Arbors, a beautification project along Farm-to-Market 2410/Knights Way, was dedicated in honor of Dr. Jim Anderson, chamber board president, retired chancellor of Central Texas College and the creator of Vision XXI.

Six years ago, Vision XXI met for the first time and is designed to partner local leaders and key organizations in producing a shared vision of growing the future of the community.

Members of the Vision XXI 2017 class, like all the past Vision XXI sessions, have always been assigned a class project. The 2017 project became the creation of Anderson Arbors and the selling of crepe myrtle trees that will be planted along the west side of FM 2410.

Brick-size monuments will also be mounted at the base of each tree engraved with a message selected by the buyer of the tree.

Vision XXI Coordinator Mary Shabunia announced at the ceremony that the planting of the trees would begin in April. Fifty-four people bought trees in this first phase of the Anderson Arbor project.

Class project coordinator Cyd West said, “That number of trees will cover the space from the intersection of Interstate 14 to the Tacqueria Restaurant. Phase II will continue into 2018 and will eventually fill the space from the chamber office to near McDonalds.

Chamber staff members and other local dignitaries, including Mayor Spencer Smith, surrounded Anderson and his daughter, Tina, at the entrance of the chamber offices.

Paraphrasing the proclamation read by Smith, the wording stated the contribution that has been made by Anderson through the Vision XXI program, his service with distinction as chancellor of Central Texas College and how the Anderson Arbors project will brighten the travel scenery through the city of Harker Heights and will serve as a lasting legacy of Dr. Anderson’s service and dedication to the community.

An ornate sculptured white stone, designed by Larry Royce Hullum of Stone Sculpture in Briggs, was then unveiled as the focal point for the line of trees that will line FM 2410.

The message on the stone states, “Anderson Arbors was established in 2017 by the Vision XXI class in dedication to Dr. James Anderson, founder of Vision XXI.”

Hidden Falls Nursery of Killeen donated the landscaping of the area where the stone is on display. “They will also be the tree supplier for the project,” Shabunia said.

Anderson, who had never met Hullum, told him, “I appreciate the work you put into this. I’m overwhelmed and thank you very much!”

Following the unveiling, Anderson said, “I’ve got to say that Vision XXI would not be existent if not for Gina (Pence), Cyd and Mary. I sort of just came along for the ride. This is overwhelming and I don’t know what to say except thanks to all of you.”

Vision XXI 2017 graduate and Harker Heights High School student Santana Espinoza told the Herald, “This is kind of historical and I’m excited to be here. I can say I was a part of this and it turned out great. I can’t wait to see the trees!”

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